Naming Your Small Business Program: A Potential Detractor to Inclusion

Whatever happened to the empassing, yet highly effective statement being an Equal Opportunity Employer?

Equal opportunity applies to all citizens, unhampered by artificial barriers or prejudices or preferences.  The aim according to this often complex and contested concept is that important jobs/contracts should go to those ‘most qualified’ – persons most likely to perform ably in a given task – and not go to persons for arbitrary or irrelevant reasons, such as circumstances of birth, upbringing, friendship ties to whoever is in power, religion, sex, ethnicity, race, caste, or involuntary personal attributes such as disability, age, gender, or sexual orientation.

American citizens should give each other an equal chance to compete within the framework of goals and the structure of rules established.  The idea is to remove arbitrariness from the selection process and base it on some pre-agreed basis of fairness, with the assessment process being related to the type of position, and emphasizing procedural and legal means.  Individuals should succeed or fail based on their own efforts and not extraneous circumstances such as having well-connected parents.  It is opposed to nepotism and plays a role in whether a social structure is seen as legitimate.

Within any speech or discussion about supplier diversity and small business development, we all recite and listen to similar comments. Comments that reflect how “Minority Business Represents 7% of Federal Contracts; Small Business is the Driving Force of the Nation’s Economy; Minority Business is Critical to the Growth & Economic Development of the Economy; Small Business is the Backbone of the U.S. Economy; Small Business Accounts for 99% of all of the New Jobs in America; Small Business Represents Two-thirds of the Private Sector Jobs; Small Business Represents ½ of the GDP.”

With these glorious superlatives about small business, we should want to grant a term consistent and worthy of such vast attainment. Particularly, since the public and private sectors are working diligently to develop and include enterprises owned, control, and operated by Native American, Asian, black and Latino citizenry.

As you review the terms that follow in the next section, keep in mind that these are actual descriptions used over the past couple of decades entitling the businesses and programs in place by the public and private sectors for small business utilization. At a minimum, the assortment of so many names shows a differentiation of our understanding about the target group and our collective objective. These capture the most used and some were not so favorable, such as;

  • Minority Business Enterprises (MBE)
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)
  • Affirmative Action Program
  • Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB)
  • Small Business Enterprises (SBE)
  • 8(a) Contractor
  • Social & Economic Disadvantaged Business
  • Socioeconomic Business Program
  • Certified Supplier
  • Emerging Enterprise (EE)
  • Emergethnic (Emerging and Ethnic smashed up)
  • Ethnic Business Enterprises Development
  • Fledging Business Enterprises
  • Historically Underutilized Business (HUB)
  • Inner-city businesses
  • Minority Supplier
  • Minority Vendor
  • Minority-owned business (MOB)
  • WBE (Caucasian Women)
  • DVBE (Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise)
  • SDV (Service Disabled Veterans)
  • Qualified Diverse Suppliers
  • Second-tier or Subcontractor
  • Section 3-HUD
  • Small Business (SB)
  • Diverse Business Enterprise (DBE)
  • Supplier/Vendor Diversity
  • Supplier Diversity
  • Diverse Suppliers
  • LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender)
  • Person with Disabilities (PwD)
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Supplier Inclusion & Diversity Program

One Door Supports a Unified Outcome

In some respects, adding another name or brand to the field is like dousing gasoline on the fire. However, it is sometimes necessary to create a controlled burn to arrest a fire’s detrimental direction.

Creating a new identification that reaches everyone is a daunting task. Utopia would have us use the word ‘people’ as the only unbiased idiom available. However, the target market must have viability to meet professional procurement requirements.

Viable firms are what all buyers want and a viable opportunity is what the target group seeks. One process must be established and practiced to meet fair inclusion.

Accomplishing image building fairly results on a case-by-case basis. Notwithstanding, a more powerful group image is one that has universality. Therefore, let’s refer to our target segment as VIABLE.

VIABLE has a large usage in small business speeches and seminar training on the subject. Correspondence and legislation commonly expresses viable suppliers, going back to the inception of small business development. Therefore, let us centrally focus our language on viability and discard the other negative terms such as minority, disadvantaged, and sub when describing the firms we would like to engage.

Offered on 12/07/86 by:

Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.